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TDG Broubon Bracket: Limited Edition Region

This is the region of heavy hitters.  These are a few of the bourbons that are highly sought after by many while very few are produced and distributed.  They are not only difficult to find but they are also never cheap.  What they are, however, are outstanding bottles of bourbon that just might change your life.  OK, maybe not that good but if you are one who is used to drinking things from the lower shelves, these bourbons will blow you out of the water.

The bottles you see in the picture above are actually Pappy Van Winkle, the most sought after bourbon in the world and impossible to actually find.  The picture you see was taken by me as I did find these over the weekend.  You may notice however that the 15 year is about $1,200 to and the 20 year is $1,600.  Yay for me that I found them, too bad they were so outlandishly expensive.  These are so exclusive and impossible to find that I am excluding them from the bracket.

To get your hands on these and the bottles below you either have to get very (VERY) lucky or you need to spend much of the year building relationships with the right store managers and still hope you get lucky enough to land one.  But the bottle listed below are very, very good and are arguably worth the effort it takes.

1 - George T. Stagg

Whiskey Advocate Rating: 95
Distilled by: Buffalo Trace
Tasting Notes (hijacked from here) : The new, younger sibling to George T. Stagg. George T.’s signature is its bold nature and high proof, and Junior follows in its footsteps. The aromas are very nice: bold spice (clove, dusty mint, cinnamon, evergreen) with layers of burnt sugars, cocoa, charred oak, and berried fruit. However, on the palate, those sugars become dominated by aggressive spice, leather, and unnecessary tannin, most notably on the finish.

I talked a little about George T. Stagg in the barrel proof region, but now I'll give it the full coverage it deserves. A yearly release from Buffalo Trace as part of their Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.  GTS is barrel proof and is usually very strong.  The 2013 release was the weakest on record at 128 proof but 2012 was nearly 144 proof.  What makes this incredibly strong bourbon so good is that it is very strong without killing you.  It packs a punch but still offers you incredible and rich flavors; it won't kill your taste buds like many other spirits that are around 70% alcohol might.

This is one is incredibly difficult to get your hands on so suggesting you go to your local liquor store and buy it is futile.  But if you are sitting at a bar with a good bourbon selection and see the Stagg on the menu, it is worth it.  The 2012 Stagg was certainly better than 2013 imo but both are outstanding.

2 - Four Roses Limited Edition Single Barrel & Small Batch

Whiskey Advocate Rating: 96
Distilled by: Four Roses
Tasting Notes (hijacked from here) : SMALL BATCH 2013 - A marriage of 13 and 18 year old bourbons. A mature yet very elegant whiskey, with a silky texture and so easy to embrace with a splash of water. Balanced notes of honeyed vanilla, soft caramel, a basket of complex orchard fruit, blackberry, papaya, and a dusting of cocoa and nutmeg; smooth finish. Sophisticated, stylish, with well-defined flavors. A classic!

Whiskey Advocate Rating: 92
SINGLE BARREL 2014 - Thirteen years old, but it shows its age nicely. It’s peppered with complex dried spice notes (mint, cinnamon, ginger, vanilla), yet it also has interwoven sweet notes (maple syrup, caramel, honey) to keep the whiskey from being too dry. Hints of dark chocolate and berried fruit add complexity. Dry, spicy, tobacco, and leather-tinged finish. Great complexity!

Every year Four Roses has 2 separate limited edition releases. In late spring they will release a LE Single Barrel.  This will actually be multiple single barrels and one bottle to the next might be dramatically different.  In the fall they release their LE Small Batch.  This is taking a few different batches, blending them together and bottling them.  The 2012 and 2013 LE Small Batch won Whiskey Advocate's American Whiskey of the Year award.  Both were a couple of my favorite bourbons I've ever tasted.

What makes Four Roses unique is that they have 10 very specific recipes.  There are 2 different matshbills and 5 different yeast strains they will use to make their bourbons and each bottle will tell you the recipe that was used.  Their regular single barrel that you can find on most liquor store shelves is the OBSV recipe.  The letters to note are the 2nd and 4th letters.  In this case the B represents which mashbill was used.  The B is a higher rye content as opposed to the E which is slightly higher corn.  The 4th letter represents one of their 5 yeast strains which bring out various flavors.

The 2014 LE Single Barrel is an OESF recipe that is 11 years old.  Higher corn, fuller bodied whiskey that is a bit more sweet and fruity than other strains. Still hunting for this one.

3 - William LaRue Weller

Whiskey Advocate Rating: 95
Distilled by: Buffalo Trace
Tasting Notes (hijacked from here) : The traditionally gentle demeanor of this wheated bourbon is jazzed up with some lovely complex spice (mostly coming from the oak). Sweet notes of maple syrup, silky caramel, blackberry jam, and blueberry are peppered with notes of allspice spiked with cinnamon and vanilla. Soft leather on the finish. Great balance. A lovely whiskey! Buffalo Trace Antique Collection 2013 Release.

Another barrel proof as part of the BTAC.  This is the same recipe as what you will find in Pappy but it is aged differently and released as barrel proof.  The 2013 WLW was released at 136.2 proof which is very high for the Weller.  But this was an outstanding year for it.

The maple syrup and caramel flavors really come through with some depth and thickness.  Loved this year's Weller probably more than this year's Stagg.  This one releases far fewer bottles than the Stagg (estimated at about 4,000 bottles while the Stagg is about double that amount).  Nearly impossible to get but another great bourbon to drink if you are able.

4 - Parker's Heritage Collection

Whiskey Advocate Rating: 92
Distilled by: Heaven Hill
Tasting Notes (hijacked from here) : From a single barrel, but the barrel number is (unfortunately) not specified. It’s nicely matured, deftly balanced, and complex, with a wide range of fruit, layered sweetness, and a cabinet full of spice, especially mint. Easy to drink—I’m enjoying it immensely without adding any water—and deceptively beautiful; there are no fancy bells or whistles here. Great bourbon, honoring a great master distiller.

This is an annual release from Heaven Hill's master distiller Parker Beam.  Each year is something completely different from the other releases.  2009 was a marriage of barrels from different decades.  2010 was a wheated mashbill.  2011 was finished in cognac barrels.  Last year's PHC was call the Promise of Hope.  Parker Beam has ALS and a portion of proceeds from the sales of Promise of Hope went to the ALC Association.

The bourbon itself was the first single barrel of the series. 10 year old barrels hand selected by Parker Beam.

The PHC collection is difficult to get but much more available than any of the bottles mentioned above.


  1. I will put each of the matchups in the comments below
  2. You vote by "Rec'ing" the comment.
  3. Please only vote for one in each of the match-ups.
  4. Voting will go for 2 days.

Have fun.  Get out and try some of these!